Brother Jonathan goes to war: The archaeology of national identity along political borders
Maguire, Susan E
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Collective identities are produced and reproduced both through the landscape and through the material culture of people's everyday lives. Political borders structure the relationship between people on both sides. The formation and maintenance of national identities is reflected in the cultural landscape and through the material culture of people's every day lives. Landscape archaeology allows for the study of these situated and historically contingent identities, such as national identity, through the archaeological record. Historical archaeology has the luxury of combining the study of landscape and material culture with research into the historical documents from the time period. Understanding the perception of place at a number of scales and the role of different groups in the formation of identity enables researchers to sort through the multiplicities of meaning and understand how national identity was expressed in the everyday lives of people living along a political border. The recognition of the United States as a sovereign nation-state at the end of the Revolutionary War in 1783 dramatically changed the social, political and economic landscapes of the Great Lakes region. Old Fort Niagara's role in the struggle for control of the Niagara Frontier and its location at the eventual border of the newly formed nation makes it an excellent place to study the formation and maintenance of collective identities such as ethnicity or nationality and the manifestation of these identities in the archaeological record. The opposition of the American and British military along the border during the War of 1812 played a prominent role in the formation of the American national identity. The material culture of everyday military life (ceramics, gunflints, musketballs, buttons) tells much about how soldiers on both sides of the border constructed a national identity in opposition to the soldiers across the border.